27.11.2021

Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Nuneaton Borough

Dwyer (21)

Hednesford Town

Rowley (40)

(1) 1

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Carter Lycett

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Peterborough Sports (A) 30.11.21

The Pitmen stop the rot this afternoon at Liberty Way as they end a run of four successive defeats with a score draw at fellow mid-table dwellers Nuneaton Borough

Manager Keenen Meakin-Richards - starting to come under pressure to turn around a recent run of poor results - was hamstrung by several key players being unavailable for today's game, leading him to make significant changes to his side from last Saturday's side that had lost at Royston Town. In came debutants Oliver Basey and Patrick Fini, who had joined the club from Birmingham City and Hereford respectively yesterday, replacing injured duo Jono Brown and Todd Parker. Ben Bailey made his long-awaited return to the side at centre-back as he replaced the suspended Chay Tilt, which saw Lewis Ison moved to an unfamiliar midfield role to accommodate the returning skipper

Nuneaton - beaten 3-2 at Keys Park back in September - had struggled to get their season going despite being strongly fancied to do well this season in some quarters, sitting down in fourteenth place in the table at the start of play. Manager Jimmy Ginnelly made three changes to his side that had lost 2-1 against Needham Market last weekend as Bradley Foster replaced ex-Hednesford man Tony Breeden between the posts, Huddersfield Town loanee Ben Midgley replaced Tom Armitage and Isaiah Osbourne returned to the side in place of former Premier League star Leroy Lita 

It was a bitterly cold afternoon, although Nuneaton had mercifully avoided the heavy bout of snow that had fallen in Hednesford overnight and had enveloped the local Cannock Chase area. The Pitmen made an enterprising start to proceedings as they went close in the first minute; Carter Lycett and Reece Flanagan linked up down the right, with Lycett pulling the ball back from the byeline to Ison, who struck a rising shot narrowly over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area

The Pitmen continued to press, with Riley O'Sullivan making it a difficult afternoon for the vastly experienced Liam Daly at the back for Nuneaton. the former Coventry United man bustled his way through in the seventh minute of the game but was eventually stopped by skipper Damien McCrory as he got on the end of a pass from Shaquille Master

Three minutes later, Lycett won a free-kick right in the edge of the Nuneaton penalty area after a marauding run infield. Master lined up the free-kick despite interest from Lycett and Courtney Richards but lifted his effort over the crossbar

Four minutes later, more good play from Lycett saw him get into a pocket of space down the right and waited for the overlapping Wes Atkinson to make a run, playing the ball down the line to the right-back. The former West Brom man cut the ball back into the path of O'Sullivan, but more last-ditch defending from Boro saw O'Sullivan denied once more at the near post

Nuneaton had offered very little thus far as an attacking threat, with only a low cross from the right from Gift Mussa that skipped across the face of goal and wide of the target the best they could muster so far on eighteen minutes

However, with their first real foray forwards, Nuneaton took the lead against the run of play in the twenty-first minute of the game; Ryan Edmunds - playing in his 100th game for Nuneaton - picked the ball up out wide on the right and crossed to the far post, where Scott McManus arrived late to meet the ball. He appeared to push Atkinson in the back as he turned the ball back across goal and into the path of the lurking Anthony Dwyer, who calmly slotted the ball home past Basey from six yards out to open the scoring against his former club. There were calls for offside against the striker as he turned the ball home, but the goal stood

The visitors responded with another free-kick just outside the Nuneaton penalty area three minutes later, won by O'Sullivan after he was bundled over right on the line by Osbourne. Lycett took responsibility for this one and lashed his twenty-five yards just over the crossbar, although it was questionable as to whether the Nuneaton wall was in fact ten yards away from the ball

Sixty seconds later, Lycett really should have brought the visitors level once more as a slick passing move involving Flanagan and O'Sullivan played the winger through on goal down the right. The teenager took a touch and attempted to turn the ball home from fifteen yards out but saw his effort blocked by Foster. The ball looped up and looked to be dropping into the net, only for Osbourne to make a fine goal-line clearance and deny Lycett an equaliser

The Pitmen were reliant on Richards to make a goal line clearance of his own at the other end on the half-hour mark as Greg Kaziboni found space down the left and stood up a cross to the far post that caught the bitter wind blowing across the pitch, taking it over the reach of Basey. The ball looked to be dropping onto the head of Dwyer, who was denied a simple tap-in by Richards' timely header away

The Pitmen somehow contrived to miss another glorious chance to equalise four minutes later as Ison's miscued shot from thirty yards out ran kindly to Lycett down the right. He pulled the ball back from the byeline and into the path of Master, whose first-time shot from eight yards out was instinctively saved by Foster at his near post

The game was swinging back towards the Pitmen, who were enjoying more of the ball again and creating chances to level before the break. New boy Fini played Master into space down the left on thirty-seven minutes, with the winger leading Edmunds on a merry dance across the face of the Nuneaton penalty area before firing high and wide of goal

The Pitmen continued to press and were rewarded for their enterprising approach with an equalising goal on forty minutes; Lycett was brought down in full flight by Osbourne forty yards from goal, handing the Pitmen a free-kick which Lycett took. His deep, inswinging ball from the right was floated into the Nuneaton six-yard box and over the heads of everyone except Kyle Rowley, who was on hand to head home from close-range with a powerful header

It had been a first-half edged by the Pitmen, who had enjoyed the better of the chances and possession, whilst Nuneaton had lacked in inspiration going forwards despite the onus on them to come out and play as the home side

The second half was to prove less action-packed as both sides struggled with the horribly cold and blustery conditions. A neat passage of play from Boro on fifty-two minutes saw the ball worked from right to left via Edmunds and Dwyer and into the path of Danny King, who chipped his angled cross-cum-shot over the head of Basey but narrowly wide of the far post

Lycett sent Master on his way with a fine sweeping ball across the pitch three minutes later, playing a forty-yard ball from right to left and into the path of the winger, who did well to hold off the attentions of Edmunds and cut inside from the left, but struck the base of the post with his low drive from a very tight angle

Basey was forced into his first real save of the afternoon just before the hour mark; Bailey's miscued clearance fell to Dwyer out on the left, with the striker pulling the ball back into the path of McManus via a touch from Kaziboni. The midfielder attempted to sidefoot his effort from selves yards out past Basey, but the on-loan stopper made a fine save down to his right to push the ball away from danger

A minute later, the Pitmen had a great chance to take the lead through O'Sullivan as Flanagan's neat through flick with the outside of his boot saw O'Sullivan race into the ball, in behind Daly. He took the ball wide however and narrowed the angle for himself, which saw the young striker fire into the side-netting from six yards out

The on-loan Mitchell pulled a good chance well wide of goal for Boro on sixty-three minutes, tamely shooting well wide of Basey's left-hand post from the edge of the penalty area after Kaziboni had squared the ball to him from the left

George Cater - who had spent the past three months out injured - finally made his welcome return to the side four minutes later as he came on in place of Master. This saw a shift in positions between him and Lycett, with Cater going out on the right and Lycett moving to the left in the position vacated by Master

The Pitmen somehow failed to take the lead on seventy-one minutes as Lycett picked up a long throw from Ison down the left and cut inside from the wing, taking out Osbourne and Daly in the process before shooting. The ball took a deflection off the covering McCrory at the near post and rebounded kindly for Lycett once more, who saw his follow-up shot saved by the legs of Foster. In the melee that followed, both Cater and O'Sullivan failed to turn the loose ball home from a couple of yards out as the Nuneaton goal led a charmed life

Cater was looking purposeful on his return to action and picked up a long punt forwards from Atkinson with twelve minutes remaining, beating both Daly and McCrory but pulling his low shot from fifteen yards out wide of goal

With the game entering the final ten minutes, the tempo of the game slowed and the chances started to dry up as both sides struggled to create openings. The hosts went close, however, with five minutes remaining as Midgley's outswinging corner kick was met by the head of McCrory, only to see his effort skip wide of the post by a matter of inches

Lycett was shown the game's only yellow card on eighty-one minutes as he brought Osbourne down in midfield and incurred the wrath of the referee, who booked the youngster

Nuneaton had brought on former Hednesford nemesis Luke Benbow for the final minutes and also brought Lita on late on in place of King as they looked for a late winner 

In added time, the Pitmen made their second and last change of the game as Aram Soleman came on in place of Flanagan to see out the remaining two minutes of the game

A fair result that leaves both sides mired in mid-table after a low-quality ninety minutes and looking at a season that is already starting to peter out as the sides at the top of the table scamper away from the rest of the pack. The Pitmen had been good value for their point - their first-ever earned at Liberty Way - but had lacked the quality in many areas to pick up maximum points. They move on to another away trip on Tuesday night as they make the daunting-looking trip to title challengers Peterborough Sports looking to build on today's point earned

Nuneaton Borough: Foster, Edmunds, Kaziboni, McCrory ©, Daly, McManus, Mussa (Armitage 83), Dwyer (Benbow 83), Midgley, King (Lita 87), Osbourne       Subs Unused: Chingoka, Noble

Hednesford Town: Basey, Atkinson, Fini, Rowley, Bailey ©, Richards, Master (Cater 67), Ison, O'Sullivan, Flanagan (Soleman 90), Lycett       Subs Unused: Pryce, Mellor, Clarkson

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